GALA Festival: Take a Peak Inside London’s Secret Groove Village

Last weekend, nestled deep in South London’s Peckham Rye Park was the newly discovered, and independent, GALA Festival. After being founded in 2016, this year was their sixth installment and was an outrageous uplift of disco, jazz, house, drum & bass, tech, afrobeat and jungle – catering for pretty much everyone’s music taste. 

Tucked away in South London, GALA festival provided attendees with a varied range of genres, which meant the fun never stopped while bouncing around the well-made six stages. Each stage was cleverly created to heighten the genre, such as the Patio podium which was industrial with standing platforms. Then venturing over to the tents, a mixture of small and big teepees and igloos – that hosted super funky vibes. Another favourite set was the big Dome which hosted a mixture of upbeat disco, jungle and other belching sounds.

The highlighted performances throughout the weekend included Little Dragon, Palms Trax, Charlie Bones, Hunee, Nubya Garcia, DJ Harvey, Soichi Terada, and Sons of Kemet many funk seekers floated through the gates, ready to rave.

Thursday was a slight new chapter as they focused on live music and bands. The lineup included Shabaka Hutchings’ jazz group Sons Of Kemet, Mercury-nominated Nubya Garcia, and Moses Boyd’s new project Binker and Moses, presented by Brilliant Corners’ Giant Steps and South London collective Born N Bread. Nia Archives took to the Dome on Thursday playing her beloved tracks, solidifying her as a fast-raising talent in the jungle scene. As Little Dragon headlined the evening, and the sunset, many GALA-goers had their eyes and ears pumped for the rest of the Jubilee weekend. 

Friday provided more of GALA’S conventional jazz and groovy style, with widely acclaimed DJ Harvey making a much-anticipated debut, that shook the ground. Dan Shake, one of the UK-established house DJ heroes returned to the festival, after his triumphant 2021 creating beloved tracks like “Flame,” “Paper” and “Treat You Right.” The legendary Soichi Terada, a renowned Japanese DJ and producer also joined Friday’s line-up wearing his signature Hawaiian shirt and a huge grin. Yen Sung was also one to watch on Friday, as one of Lux’s longest-serving residents. 

As part of the festival’s ever-expanding family, GALA welcomed back long-term partners Rhythm Section, Rye Wax, and Horse Meat Disco for the closing performance on Saturday. Jeremy Underground, Paula Tape, DJ Tennis, and others will be joined by Homoelectric’s Luke Una and Jamie Bull, London favourite Artwork, boogie pioneers Leroy Burgess and Saving Coco, Detroit native Marcellus Pitmman, renowned selector Palms Trax, and the prolific Roman Flugel. Saturday was the pinnacle of GALA and they successfully and diversely distributed underground artists to the ears of London. 

GALA Festival was a really safe and inviting environment where music comes first! It features music that is not available at any other UK event and one to add to next year’s summer plans.

Words: Izabel Rose
Photography: Seb Gardener, Frankie Castillo, Justine Trickett, Garry Jones, Rob Jones